Random Thoughts: On Being Anti-social

Random Thoughts

Being a part of this community means just that. BEING. A PART. Of this COMMUNITY. It means being social. Not anti-social. It means joining in. Not staying on the sidelines. It means being together. Not being apart.

While it’s very possible to be a book blogger and not be a part of this community, it is not likely that blogger will be a successful book blogger if they aren’t in some way connected to the community. Without the social component of book blogging how can one hope to grow their blog? Promote their brand? Reach new readers? Connect with authors and publishers?

Unless that anti-social book blogger has already achieved celebrity status before they even decide to start their book blog, they will have a much harder time finding success in book blogging. I doubt if Stephen King or J.K. Rowling decided to blog about books they’d need to utter a single “peep” on Twitter or respond to a single comment to have a legion of followers.

Socially quiet celebrities aside, the rest of us have to achieve some level of sociability in order to succeed. Yet many of us in this community have a tendency toward being the opposite of social. We like to keep our noses buried in books. We like to share our thoughts via the written word versus the spoken one. We’d much rather hang out with a few close friends than attend a large-scale event with thousands of strangers.

And yet to be a book blogger with a modicum of success we must push past those tendencies, those fears, and reach out to others, interact with others, connect with others.

Not always the easiest of feats at the best of times. A near impossibility at the worst.

But in order for us not to see a dip in our stats, to watch our follower count diminish, to witness our online friends make new friends, we have to constantly keep ourselves a part of the social. Even when we don’t feel up to it.

Because while for most of us blogging is a “hobby,” in that most of us don’t get compensated for what we do, many of us choose to run our blogs like we would a business. And as such we can’t afford to retreat into our shells. We can’t hide out until we feel ready to reconnect. We can’t take a “time out” unless we are prepared to lose. Readers. Followers. Opportunities. Friends.

However, without that thing called a paycheck it’s that much harder to put on our smiling face – or even our snarky one – when we don’t feel like it. It’s hard to cheer for a book’s release when we feel anything but cheery if our lack of joy won’t result in our rent being unpaid. It’s hard to join in the conversation when we don’t feel like we have a single word to contribute if our absence won’t result in the termination from our employment.

And it’s the opposite of easy to be a participant when not lured in by the almighty dollar if we don’t know, don’t like or don’t trust those we must participate with.

For those of us who look at their blogs as a business and themselves as the face of their brand, it’s easier to get that game face on. The idea of backsliding after all the effort in building their brand can help to motivate them to keep going when everything inside of them says to step away. And if being social is a key component of what makes them a success, then they have even more incentive to “suck it up” than those who derive their success from other aspects of blogging.

But even for those bloggers who don’t wish to see their traffic decrease, their followers find new bloggers to follow, their brand begin to tarnish, stepping into their online persona when it is just so easy to stay offline can be a challenge.

So what can be done?

When you’re just not in the right headspace to answer those tweets, respond to those comments or check those emails there are a few things you can do so as not to completely alienate those loyal to you.

Take a break.

Take a day. Take a few days. Take a week. Sometimes just stepping away from the social for a short time can get you back to where you want to be. People will understand your need for “you” time. But be sure to let everyone know before you do.

  • Send out a tweet letting everyone know you’re stepping away for a little while and will respond when you return.
  • Set up an automated reply on your email to let everyone know that you won’t be looking at – or responding to – any email during your absense.
  • Write a blog post. If your absence is going to be for longer than a day or two, let people know via post that you won’t be around even though you might have scheduled posts going up while you’re gone.

As long as you keep your followers informed they should be understanding about your need to take some time for you.

Write a post.

Sometimes the best way to get yourself back into the mood to be a part of the social sphere is to share your thoughts and feelings about your current lack of sociability. Reading other people’s comments who relate, commiserate, sympathize or empathize with your plight can often be the boost you need to get back into the game.

Attend a bookish event or signing.

You don’t have to announce who you are. Just go. Listen to those authors talk about their craft, read a passage from their latest release, share their enthusiasm for what they do with their readers.

If books are what you are passionate about, hearing from the authors can really help remind you of just why you do what you do and make you want to once again be a part of the conversation.

Re-read a favorite book or dive into a new book you’ve been dying to read.

While the act of reading itself might keep you away from the social for a few hours, reading a book that you just can’t help but want to talk about with others might be enough to entice you back into the community.

You became a book blogger to share your thoughts with other like-minded readers. And if you’ve read a book that has you squeeing with excitement, freaking out because of an oh em gee moment, or going crazy because of an insane cliffhanger ending, resisting the temptation to share those emotions won’t be easy. So why resist?

Bookstrap – a.k.a. fake it ’til you make it.

While I’m not the biggest believer in bootstrapping, for some it really does seem to work.

If you don’t feel social, be extra social. If you don’t want to respond to any email, respond to them all… or if your email box is out of hand, then tackle as many as you can handle. If you don’t want to share your thoughts on Twitter, share as many as you can get away with without looking a bit mad. If you’re not in the mood to tell Facebook “what’s on your mind” do it anyway. Even if whatever is on your mind isn’t of the happy, happy variety.

Just do something. And do it quickly.

Because doing nothing, floundering between being completely anti-social and semi-social, will distance you from the community whether you meant for that to happen or not.

Everyone understands the need to go quiet for awhile. The need to be completely anti-social. But patience and understanding only last for so long. And if you choose to be a part of the community, then it means BEING a PART of the COMMUNITY. You can’t have it both ways.

But that’s what I think. What about you?

Do you feel the need to take a step back from the social now and again? How has it affected your standing in the community? How has pulling back affected your followers on social media?

Has taking a break helped you realize that you missed the social aspects of book blogging more than you disliked, grew weary of, or were frustrated by them? Or has it made you realize that you prefer quiet solitude to community?

And if you have found yourself in a particularly anti-social mood, what have you done to combat it?

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